All three candidates in the upcoming Kaohsiung mayoral by-election on Saturday vowed to push for infrastructure improvements, despite the city’s relatively tight budget.
During the only televised policy presentation before the vote on Sunday next week, Kaohsiung City Councilor Jane Lee (李眉蓁) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said she would continue the efforts of former mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) — also of the KMT and who was ousted in a recall vote in June — to make sure that “roads are flat, lights are bright and ditches are unblocked.”
She accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which governed the city for two decades before Han was elected in 2018, of failing to maintain even the most basic infrastructure.
Adding to Kaohsiung’s woes is about NT$330 billion (US$11.2 billion) in debt left by Han’s predecessors, which was partly due to poor financial management, she said.
Wu Yi-jheng (吳益政) of the Taiwan People’s Party said that the roads must be widened to make room for more trees to mitigate the effects of “urban heat islands,” areas with higher temperatures caused by dense infrastructure.
Wu also called for changes to the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures (財政收支劃分法) so that Kaohsiung could keep more of its tax revenues.
A person can only gain intellectual freedom through financial independence, he said, adding that the concept applies to cities as well.
Lee agreed on reforming the act, and vowed to reduce the city’s debt and increase the earnings of Kaohsiung residents.
Former vice premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) of the DPP, who lost to Han in 2018, denied that the central government has not taken Kaohsiung’s development seriously.
He said that the city received the most funding from the central government of any administrative area from 2017 to last year.
Chen also said the KMT had contributed to the city’s financial woes when it led Kaohsiung until 1998, adding that he would appeal to the central government for more funding.
He also pledged to establish standard operating procedures for the city’s infrastructure, including for project construction, maintenance and supervision.
Among the highlights of the presentation was Lee’s proposal to promote the city’s rum industry, because of its abundant supply of sugar cane.
If Kaohsiung could gain 10 percent of the global rum market, it could generate NT$50 billion annually, she said.
“Everybody knows Kinmen has kaoliang and Yilan has Kavalan [a whiskey distillery], and I believe Kaohsiung could establish its own market,” she said.
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